The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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 Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume One, Chapter Eleven

                                                  [Page 949]

                   XI: CONCENTRATION CAMPS

The Concentration Camp, used against the people of Germany
and allied nationals, was one of the fundamental
institutions of the Nazi regime. It was a pillar of the
system of terror by which the Nazis consolidated their power
over Germany. It was a primary weapon in the battle against
the Jews, against the Christian church, against labor,
against those who wanted peace, against opposition or non-
conformity of any kind. It involved the systematic use of
terror to achieve the cohesion within Germany which was
necessary for the execution of the conspirators' plans for
aggression. It was the final link in a chain of terror and
repression which involved the SS and the Gestapo and which
resulted in the apprehension of victims and their
confinement without trial, often without charges, generally
with no indication of the length of their detention.

The SS through its espionage system tracked down the
victims; the criminal police and the Gestapo seized them and
brought them to the concentration camps; and the
concentration camps were administered by the SS. No attempt
will be made to present a complete catalogue of individual
brutalities. The emphasis will rather be upon the
fundamental purposes for which these camps were used, the
techniques of terror which were employed, the large number
of their victims, and the death and anguish which they

The Nazis realized early that without the most drastic
repression of actual and potential opposition they could not
consolidate their power over the German people. Immediately
after Hitler became Chancellor, the conspirators promptly
destroyed civil liberties by issuing the Presidential
Emergency Decree of 28 February 1933 (1390-PS). It was this
decree which was the basis for "Schutzhaft", that is,
"protective custody" -- the power of the Gestapo to imprison
people without judicial proceedings. This is made clear by a
typical order for protective custody:

     "Order of Protective Custody. Based on Article 1 of the
     Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of
     People and State of 28 February 1933 (Reichsgesetzblatt
     I, p. 83), you are taken into protective custody in the
     interest of public security and order.
     "Reason: Suspicion of activities inimical toward the
     State." (2499-PS)

                                                  [Page 950]
Goering, in a book entitled "Aufbau Einer Nation" and
published in 1934, sought to give the impression that the
camps originally were directed at those whom the Nazis
considered "Communists" and "Social Democrats". At page 89
of this book he stated:

     "We had to deal ruthlessly with these enemies of the
     State. It must not be forgotten that at the moment of
     our seizure of power over 6 million people officially
     voted for Communism and about 8 million for Marxism in
     the Reichstag elections in March.
     "Thus the concentration camps were created, to which we
     had to send first thousands of functionaries of the
     Communist and Social Democratic parties." (2324-PS)

In practical operations, the power to order confinement was
almost without limit: Frick, in an order which he issued on
25 January 1938, as Minister of Interior, made this clear.
Article 1 of this order provided:

     "Protective custody can be decreed as a coercive
     measure of the Secret State Police against persons who
     endanger the security of the people and the State
     through their attitude in order to counter all
     aspirations of enemies of the people and State." (1723-
     PS) This order further provides: "*** In a summary of
     all the previously issued decrees on the cooperation
     between the Party and the Gestapo I refer to the
     following and ordain:

     "1. To the Gestapo has been entrusted the mission by
     the Fuehrer to watch over and to eliminate all enemies
     of the Party and the National Socialist State as well
     as all disintegrating forces of all kinds directed
     against both. The successful solution of this mission
     forms one of the most essential prerequisite for the
     unhampered and frictionless work of the Party. The
     Gestapo, in their extremely difficult task, is to be
     granted support and assistance in every possible way by
     the NSDAP." (1723-PS)

A. Persecution of Pacifists.

The conspirators, then, were directing their apparatus of
terror against the "enemies of the State", against
"disintegrating forces", and against those people who
endangered the State "with their attitudes". Whom did they
consider as belonging in these broad categories? First, they
were the men in Germany who wanted peace. In this connection
an affidavit by Gerhart H. Segar declares as follows:

                                                  [Page 951]
     "*** 2. During the period after World War I up until my
     commitment to the Leipzig jail and Oranienburg
     concentration camp in the spring of 1933 following the
     Nazis' accession to power in January of that year, my
     business and political affiliations exposed me to the
     full impact of the Nazi theories and practice of
     violent regimentation and terroristic tactics. My
     conflict with the Nazis by virtue of my identification
     with the peace movement, and as duly elected member of
     the Reichstag representing a political faith (Social
     Democratic Party) hostile to National Socialism,
     clearly demonstrated that, even in the period prior to
     1933, the Nazis considered crimes and terrorism a
     necessary and desirable weapon in overcoming democratic
     opposition ***"
     "*** (e). That the Nazis had already conceived the
     device of the concentration camp as a means of
     suppressing and regimenting opposition elements was
     forcefully brought to my attention during the course of
     a conversation which I had with Dr. Wilhelm Frick in
     December 1932. Frick at that time was Chairman of the
     Foreign Affairs Committee of the Reichstag of which I
     was a member. When I gave an emphatic answer to Frick
     concerning the particular matter discussed, he replied,
     'Don't worry, when we are in power we shall put all of
     you guys into concentration camps.' When the Nazis came
     into power, Frick was appointed Reichsminister of
     Interior and promptly carried out his threat in
     collaboration with Goering, as Chief of the Prussian
     State Police, and Himmler." (L-83)

Thus, even before the Nazis had seized power in Germany they
had conceived of the plan to repress any potential
opposition by terror.

Frick's statement to Gerhart Segar is completely consistent
with an earlier statement which he made on 18 October 1929.
Frick at that time declared:

     "This fateful struggle will first be taken up with the
     ballot, but this cannot continue indefinitely, for
     history has taught us that in a battle, blood must be
     shed, and iron broken. The ballot is the beginning of
     this fateful struggle. We are determined to promulgate
     by force that which we preach. Just as Mussolini
     exterminated the Marxists in Italy, so must we also
     succeed in accomplishing the same through dictatorship
     and terror." (2513-PS)

There are many additional cases of the use of the
concentration camp against the men who wanted peace. There
was, for ex-

                                                  [Page 952]
ample, a group called the "Bibel Forscher" (Bible Research
Workers), most of whom were Jehovah's Witnesses. Since they
were pacifists, the conspirators provided not only for their
prosecution in the regular courts, but also for confining
them in concentration camps after they had served the
judicial sentences. An order by the Secret State Police,
Berlin, dated 5 August 1937, provided:

     "The Reichsminister of Justice had informed me that he
     does not share the opinion voiced by subordinate
     departments on various occasions, according to which,
     the arrest of the Bibelforschers after they have served
     a sentence, is supposed to jeopardize the authority of
     the law courts. He is fully aware of the necessity for
     measures by the State Police after the sentence has
     been served. He asks, however, not to bring the
     Bibelforschers into protective custody under
     circumstances detrimental to the respect of the law
     courts ***."
     "2. If information regarding the impending release of a
     Bibelforscher from arrest is received from the
     authorities carrying out the sentence, my decision
     regarding the ordering of measures by the State Police,
     will be asked for in accordance with my circular decree
     dated 22 April 1937, so that transfer to a
     concentration camp can take place immediately after the
     sentence has been served. Should a transfer into a
     concentration camp immediately after the serving of the
     sentence not be possible, Bibelforschers will be
     detained in police prisons." (D-84)

B. Persecution of Trade Union Members.

Labor unions, traditionally opposed to wars of aggression,
also felt the full force of Nazi terror. The concentration
camp was an important weapon in the campaign against the
trade unions. Goering made it plain, for instance, that
members of the Social Democratic Party were to be confined
in concentration camps (2324-Ps). Labor leaders were largely
members of that party and soon learned the meaning of
''protective custody".

In this connection, an order that one Joseph Simon should be
placed in protective custody, is pertinent (2350-PS). The
"reasons" given were as follows:

     "Simon was for many years a member of the Socialist
     Party and temporarily a member of the Union Socialiste
     Populaire. From 1907 to 1918 he was Landtag deputy of
     the Socialist Party; from 1908 to 1930 Social
     Democratic City Counsellor (Stadtrat) in Nurnberg. In
     view of the decisive role which
                                                  [Page 953]
     Simon played in the international trade unions and in
     regard to his connection with international Marxist
     leaders and central agencies, which he continued after
     the national recovery, he was placed under protective
     custody on 3 May 1933, and was kept, until 25 January
     1934, in the Dachau concentration camp. Simon is under
     the urgent suspicion that even after this date he
     played an active part in the illegal continuation of
     the Socialist Party. He took part in meetings which
     aimed at the illegal continuation of the Socialist
     Party and propagation of illegal Marxist printed matter
     in Germany.

"Through this radical attitude which is hostile to the
State, Simon directly endangers public security and order."

Further instances of this persecution of members of trade
unions are contained in (2334-PS) and (2928-PS).

C. Persecution of Jews.

Thousands of Jews, were, of course, confined in
concentration camps. (For a fuller discussion of this point
see Chapter XII.) Among the wealth of evidence showing the
confinement of Germans only because they were Jews, a
teletype from SS Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich is typical. This
order is dated 10 November 1938, and is addressed to all
headquarters of the State Police and all districts and sub-
districts of the SD (3051-PS). Paragraph 5 of this teletype,
which was entitled "Measures against Jews tonight,"

     "*** 5. Inasmuch as in the course of the events of this
     night the employment of officials used for this purpose
     would be possible, in all districts as many Jews,
     especially rich ones, are to be arrested as can be
     accommodated in the existing prisons. For the time
     being only healthy men not too old are to be arrested.
     Upon their arrest, the appropriate concentration camps
     should be contacted immediately, in order to confine
     them in these camps as fast as possible." (3051-PS)

Himmler in 1943 indicated that use of the concentration camp
against the Jews had been motivated, not simply by Nazi
racialism, but also by a fear that the Jews might have been
an obstacle to aggression. In a speech delivered at a
meeting of the SS Major Generals at Posen on 4 October 1943,
Himmler sought to justify the Nazi anti-Jewish policy:

     "I mean the clearing out of the Jews, the extermination
     of the Jewish race. It's one of those things it is easy
     to talk about -- 'The Jewish race is being
     exterminated', says one party member, 'that's quite
     clear, it's in our program, elimi-
                                                  [Page 954]
     nation of the Jews, and we're doing it, exterminating
     them'. And then they come, 80 million worthy Germans,
     and each one has his decent Jew. Of course, the others
     are vermin, but this one is an A-1 Jew. Not one of all
     those who talk this way has witnessed it, not one of
     them has been through it. Most of you must know what it
     means when 100 corpses are lying side by side, or 500
     or 1,000. To have stuck it out and at the same time --
     apart from exceptions caused by human weakness -- to
     have remained decent fellows, that is what has made us
     hard. This is a page of glory in our history which has
     never been written and is never to be written, for we
     know how difficult we should have made it for
     ourselves, if -- with the bombing raids, the burden and
     deprivations of war -- we still had Jews today in every
     town as secret saboteurs, agitators and trouble-
     mongers." (1919-PS)

It is clear from the foregoing evidence that prior to the
launching of a Nazi aggression, the concentration camp had
been one of he principal weapons by which the conspirators
achieved the social cohesion which was needed for the
execution of their plans for aggression. After the
conspirators launched their aggression and their armies
swept over Europe, they brought the concentration camp and
the whole system of Nazi terror to occupied countries. In
addition, they brought the citizens of the occupied
countries to Germany and subjected them to the whole
apparatus of Nazi brutality. In a communication to Himmler
dated 116 February   1942, Mueller, for the Chief of the
Security Police and SD, deals with the seizure of Polish
Jews for deportation to concentration camps in Germany. I
should like to quote the body of this communication:

     "In connection with the increase in the transfer of
     labor to the concentration camps, ordered to be
     completed by 30 January 1943, the following procedure
     may be applied in the Jewish section.
     "1. Total number: 45,000 Jews.
     "2. Start of transportation: 11 January 1943; End of
     transportation: 31 January 1943. (The Reich railroads
     are unable to provide special trains for the evacuation
     during the period from 115 February 1942 to 10 January
     1943 because of the increased traffic of armed forces
     leave trains).
     "3. Composition: The 45,000 Jews are to consist of
     30,000 Jews from the district of Byalystock. 10,000
     Jews from the Ghetto Theresienstat, 5,000 of whom are
     Jews fit for work who heretofore had been used for
     smaller jobs required for the Ghetto, and 5,000 Jews
     who are generally incapable
                                                  [Page 955]
     of working, also over 60 year old Jews *** As
     heretofore only such Jews would be taken for the
     evacuation who do not have any particular connections
     and who are not in possession of any high decorations.
     3,000 Jews from the occupied Dutch territories, 2,000
     Jews from Berlin 45,000. The figure of 45,000 includes
     the invalid (old Jews and children). By use of a
     practical standard, the screening of the arriving Jews
     in Auschwitz should yield at least 10,000 to 15,000
     people fit for work." (R-91)

The Jews of Hungary suffered the same fate. Between 19 March
1944 and 1 August 1944 more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews were
rounded up. Many of these were put in wagons and sent to
extermination camps. An affidavit made in London by Dr.
Rudolph Kastner, a former official of the Hungarian Zionist
Organization, states in part:

     "19 March 1944: Together with the German military
     occupation arrived in Budapest a 'Special Section
     Commando' of the German Secret Police with the sole
     object of liquidating the Hungarian Jews *** They
     arrested and later deported to Mauthausen, all the
     leaders of Jewish political and business life and
     journalists, together with the Hungarian democratic and
     anti-Fascist politicians ***."
     "Up to 27 June 1944, 475,000 Jews were deported."
     "According to statements of Krumey and Wislicseny in
     February or March 1945 a conference of the officers of
     IV.B. was called to Berlin by Eichmann in the spring of
     1942. He then informed them that the government decided
     in favor of the complete annihilation of the European
     Jews and that this will be carried out silently in the
     gas-chambers. 'Victory is ours,' declared Eichmann.
     'The end of the war is near. We must hurry as this is
     the last chance to free Europe of the Jews. After the
     war it will not be possible to utilize such methods.' "
     "Commanders of the death-camps gassed only on direct or
     indirect instructions of Eichmann. The particular
     officer of IV.B. who directed the deportations from
     some particular country had the authority to indicate
     whether the train should go to a death camp or not, and
     what should happen to the passengers. The instructions
     were usually carried by the SS-NCO escorting the train.
     The letters 'A' or 'M' on the escorting instruction
     documents indicated Auschwitz or
                                                  [Page 956]
     Majdanek; it meant that the passengers were to be
     gassed. *** Regarding Hungarian Jews the following
     general ruling was laid down in Auschwitz: children up
     to the age of 12 or 14, older people above 50, as well
     as the sick, or people with criminal records (who were
     transported in specially marked wagons) were taken
     immediately on their arrival to the gas chambers.
     "The others passed before an SS doctor who, on sight
     indicated who was fit for work, and who was not. Those
     unfit were sent to the gas chambers, while the others
     were distributed in various labor camps." (2605-PS)

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